The Gambling Scene in Panama


Casino City reports that Panama City has 18 casinos. Of these, it reports, eight have table games, while the rest are smaller casinos, only offering slot machines. In general, the larger casinos devote about the same amount of square footage to table games as they do to slots. Most of the slot machines are video reels, although there are a few older, three-reel slots, video poker and video keno games. Those, however, offer very poor pay tables.

The vast majority of casinos in Panama City are in the Cangrejo section, near the center of the city. Unlike Vegas or Reno, however, they are not clustered together into one bunch, rather spread out throughout the sector. The larger hotels in Panama City all host their own casinos, however it is more as an amenity of the hotel, rather than the purpose of it, as it is in Vegas. There are three hotels, however, the largest of the lot, which host respectably large casinos similar to that of an average Las Vages property.

Just as in the US, the casinos offer player card rewards, mostly geared towards slot players. They don’t often ask to see player cards, and many casinos don’t really have a formal method of comping table game players. The larger casino/hotel combos mentioned above, such as the Veneto, seem to have a better hold on comping players and asking for your player card.

Customer service in Panama in general is not as good as in the United States, and this spills over into the casino scene as well. Drink service is usually a waitress who comes by with beer and soda every once in a while, and if you’re lucky you might just get a cocktail waitress who will take drink orders. In the city, it seems, drinking and gambling do not go hand in hand like they do in Vegas.

The poor customer service is balanced out by the fact that tips are truly not expected and they are seldom ever given. Once in awhile you will see a foreigner tip someone, and in rare instances a local will, but in general, no tips is the standard.

Gambling and drinking are legal at 18 in Panama and there is no smoking indoors, not even in the casino. Although they aren’t sticklers on many rules (you can sit at a table without playing, despite the signs saying you can’t), they do enforce the no smoking one, which is nice.

People come to the casinos in Panama to have fun more so than to win real money. Limits for all games tend to be low across the board. People are there to relax and enjoy themselves – the attitude is very casual. So, come on down and check out the casino scene in Panama City. If you’re here for a good time, without high stakes, you won’t be disappointed.

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